Panel: Pay & Respect Keys to Attracting Drivers

Generous unemployment benefits, stricter qualifications and fear of technology are just three reasons the pool of qualified truck drivers is shrinking, says Gordon Klemp, who tracks driver pay and benefits at the National Transportation Institute, told CCJ Summer Symposium attendees in LaJolla, Calif., this week.

Older drivers are also retiring at a faster rate and for the first time, for-hire carriers are competing with private fleets, he added.

Making matters worse, although driver pay has increased in all segments over the past 10 years, it’s not keeping up with inflation, Klemp said.  His presentation was part of a panel discussion, Recruiting and Retention in a Tough Environment, moderated by CCJ Editor Jeff Crissey. Steve Branch, director, marketing with C.R. England and Scott Blevins, president/CEO of Mountain Valley Express also participated in the discussion.

Fleets are using a variety of techniques to counter the difficult recruiting environment, Klemp said. Driver pay is rising in all regions and segments and sign-on bonuses – as high as $15,000 for teams and $7,500 for solo drivers – are becoming more prevalent.

“We’ve tried (sign-on bonuses) with teams and it does get attention,” Branch said. “But I’m not sure it’s increased our hiring.”

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